At first glance, you could take Jesus’ comments as insensitive and heartless. But they were candid and direct. “Follow Me, let those who have no hope, bury him who has died without eternal life.” This disciple of Jesus wanted it both ways though. “I’ll follow You Jesus, but first…” How many times have we bargained with the Lord? “I’ll follow You Jesus, but before I do… I want to accomplish this first, or obtain this coveted item first, or dabble in this questionable area first.” In times past, they used to call this sowing your wild oats…or putting your own selfish desires ahead of anyone else, including the Lord. But when Jesus said, “Follow Me.” to the disciple there was no negotiating.
On many occasions Jesus told someone to “Follow Me.” Some did, but many did not. First off, we humans don’t like to be told what to do…we don’t like rules, especially rules on God’s terms not ours. But also, our selfish and controlling self wants to put “Following Jesus” in a neat well-defined package…like only on Sunday mornings in Church, while the rest of the week we’ll live for ourselves. But when Jesus says, “Follow Me” there is no room for negotiations…for He is God and we are not. That means we are to follow Him in faith, trust, and obedience, not the other way around…for it’s His agenda and His mission, not ours.
Whether you like it or not, you’re setting an example every day to those you come in contact with. It can be a good example, full of integrity and Christ-likeness…or it can be a bad example, full of worldliness and corruption. I Peter 2:21 tells us that we are an example to the world around us as we follow in Christ’s steps and this means in everyday living and speaking we are to imitate Him…emulating and patterning ourselves in His image.
Early in this Chapter, God tests Abraham by demanding his son of promise, Issac. God was refining Abraham’s character by commanding his loyalty and charging him to live in obedience. Anytime God tests us it’s for our ultimate benefit and good. Testing and sacrifice are just part of our journey towards self-discipline and holiness. Sacrifice is offering back to God the only thing I have to give… a love-gift of myself…of giving the best I have to the One I love the most.
Paul was more than just encouraging his fellow Believers here…he was beseeching and imploring them to take that decisive and dedicated step called sanctification. Why? When we first become a Christian we tend to hold on to parts of us that are comfortable, easy, or allow us to cope. But as we journey along with the Lord, He starts to demand we separate ourselves from those things. This process can be painful, but necessary for us to fully become God’s. Holiness or sanctification is being totally His…with nothing withheld…and Paul recognized that this was not only God’s Will but the very least thing we could do in view of the Lord’s sacrifice for us. (I Corinthians 6:20)
From the moment Jesus beckoned that rag-tag group of fishermen with, “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”… there has been the decision of whether we follow Jesus or not. For many, it’s a sacrificial decision…knowing that they are at risk of losing everything. Following Jesus sacrificially means accepting the potential loss of family, employment, and even freedom. But Jesus assured the disciples, and all of us, that this sacrifice isn’t without great reward…for in Luke 18: 29-30 He goes on to promise them, “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the Kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”